When Crikey broke the story
about the “Queensland Bar Brawl” on Tuesday (item 13), we predicted that the Bar
Association would be forced to choose between its President Peter Lyons, and
Vice-President Martin Daubney.
And choose they did.

The Council of the Bar met yesterday afternoon. By
all accounts, discussion was vigorous, but the decision a foregone conclusion.
Lyons
resigned as president and from the Council of the Bar, which is surely taking
both your bat and your ball home.

By way of background, Lyons had two days earlier
put out a statement in which he defended the
appointment of his solicitor wife, Ann Lyons, as a Supreme Court judge and
attacked Daubney for comments he had made at her swearing in, when he had
reiterated the Bar’s policy that, by and large, to be a judge you must first be
a barrister.

Lyons had also announced that he would be staying
on as Bar president, although quite how he expected to be able to continue to
publicly push its view that mere solicitors have no business sullying the ranks
of judges, given what he said about his good lady wife, was not made
clear.

While some acknowledged Lyons’s gallantry as a
husband, the Bar association’s council took a dim view of his deviation from its
party line and backed Daubney, who had taken the precaution of checking his
remarks with eminent silks before making them.

Last night the association sent around this
statement announcing the resignation
of Lyons – to be replaced by Daubney – and reaffirmed its support for the
comments made at the swearing in.

Also attached to that statement was a short letter
from Lyons in which he says he stood down to “reduce any divisions which may
have developed at the Bar”.

Reduced, perhaps, but healed divisions? No chance.
The debate over the appointment of Mrs Lyons has opened up every old wound and
fault-line within both the Bar and the wider legal profession – solicitors v
barristers; men v women; left v right – but settled none of them.

This morning the president of the Law Society, Rob
Davis, was interviewed by Madonna King on Radio Courier-Mail, otherwise known
as ABC Local Radio, who applauded the appointment of Mrs Lyons and said he saw
no reason why solicitors would not in fact make fine judges.

Given that the state’s Attorney-General Linda
Lavarch is both a woman and a solicitor the chances that another battle of this
long running war will be fought sometime soon must be high. Especially since
no-one involved shows much interest in having a judicial commission to make
recommendations on judicial appointments.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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